UK pharmas call for debate on drug access


London: The pharmaceutical industry today called for a public debate on access to modern medicines, and how society determines the value of new treatments.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is inviting NICE, patient groups, medical professionals, the NHS and leading healthcare charities to debate the issues amid continuing controversy on the availability and cost of innovative medicines to NHS patients.

“A frank, open and honest debate is clearly in the interests of patients,” said Chris Brinsmead, President of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

“We are calling for the patient groups, healthcare charities, doctors, Government, NICE and the NHS to join with the pharmaceutical industry to debate these crucial issues to hammer out a lasting solution. The time has come to discuss how we best resolve the issue, and where better than on a public platform?”

The pharmaceutical industry spends approximately £3.9billion a year in the UK researching and developing new medicines for patients. This investment has delivered over 90 per cent of the medicines available today and has led to new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease and HIV to name but a few, Mr Brinsmead added.

He said: “The UK pharmaceutical industry – along with other healthcare professionals and NICE – is committed to developing innovative approaches to pricing, ensuring that patients receive the medicines that they need. Taking the recent example of the four kidney cancer medicines, all these medicines are widely available to patients throughout Europe – where the prices are higher than in the UK.”

Mr Brinsmead said: “We are looking forward to hearing NICE’s response and welcome their contribution to what will be one of the most important debates in the history of modern healthcare.”

Image – Boy and Medicine: courtesy of MedicImage

Exercisers are biologically younger, reveals new research


London: People who exercise regularly appear to be biologically younger than those who lead sedentary lifestyles, scientists have found.

Inactivity not only leads to a greater risk of ageing-related diseases, but it may also influence the ageing process itself, researchers believe.

A study of twins found there was a difference of about nine years of ageing between those who exercised regularly and those who did not, even after considering other influences including body mass index (BMI), smoking and socio-economic status (SES).

Researchers at King’s College London and in the US studied ageing in 2,401 twins by analysing telomeres, which cap the end of chromosomes in cells and protect them from damage.

Telomeres shorten with age, leaving people increasingly susceptible to cell damage which causes disease.

However there is considerable variation between individuals, and recent research has also linked lifestyle factors such as smoking and obesity with shorter than average telomeres.

Those who exercise regularly are already known to be at lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, obesity and osteoporosis.

Comparing twins who were raised together but did different amounts of exercise, the researchers found that on average the telomeres were significantly longer in the more active twin.

The study concluded: “The US guidelines recommend that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week can have significant health benefits.

“Our results underscore the vital importance of these guidelines. They show that adults who partake in regular physical activity are biologically younger than sedentary individuals.”

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Life expectancy leap by decades

LONDON: Lifespan will increase by decades within thirty years because of scientific developments, a leading scientist has predicted.

In 2004, the UK Government’s Actuary Department statistics predicted that the average British male who lived to 65 could expect to reach 84.

But Cambridge-based biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey says that decades-longer lives may change traditional patterns of family life, careers, retirement, education and child-raising and force radical changes to pensions.

Life expectancy has already risen sharply in Britain. On average, a man aged 65 could expect to live for another 12 years in 1950. This is expected to rise to 21.7 years by the middle of the century. Although life expectancy is higher for women, its increase is slower, possibly due to the fact that women are adopting male lifestyles including drinking and smoking.